Apprenticeship in India is finally gaining its deserved ground and importance. Apprenticeship is being recognised as an essentially important way for the youth of the country to make a proper transition from school and the associated theoretical domain of study, to the world of work and practical execution of the knowledge acquired. In addition to that, Apprenticeship has been deemed extremely important and crucial for its potential to aid in the economic development of the nation. That is the reason why the Government of India has banked on impact investing in the apprenticeship sector to gain a lot of leverage and also reap huge returns from it in the near future. Countries like Austria, Switzerland and Germany have absorbed at least 70% of their youth population in graduating with various forms of apprenticeship training after they depart from schools and technical institutions and immediately use their hands-on skills and knowledge in positively affecting the operations of the industries, thus boosting their individual GDPs.
Challenges that lie in achieving a thriving Apprenticeship Ecosystem and initiatives to address them :
Though the Apprenticeship Act of 1961 was enacted with the ulterior objective of regulation the program of mentoring and tutelage of the apprentices in the industry by utilising the facilities and the resources available therein, as well as for imparting on-the-job or industry-specific and practically applicable training, it has not achieved the desired results which were envisioned. Therefore the Government of India started making significant attempts in reforming this archaic act and bringing the necessary changes in the apprenticeship environment of the nation. After the harrowing result of around 0.28 million apprentices was found out during 2008, the Government took considerably strong steps to change this data. From 2010 to 2014, the Government enacted a series of reforms and passed the Apprenticeship Amendment Bill in 2014 which was largely significant in improving the state of apprenticeship in the country.
A lot of challenges and gaps in the way of realising the full potential of apprenticeship were identified.
- Involvement of Small and Medium Enterprises in apprenticeship training in India is extremely limited due to the shortage of technical and financial resources required to achieve the same.
- Inadequacy of incentives to employers who engage apprentices , lack of infrastructural and resources support to link apprenticeship with careers and vocational guidance services are still languishing behind their desired potential.
- The Indian skill development ecosystem is highly fragmented both at the National and State level, with scores of organisations and establishments working with individual objectives to achieve the same.
- Too many apprenticeship programs, absence of adequate communication and outreach , non-recognition of successful apprentices are other crucial factors that are stalling both economic development and attainment of social justice.
Thus the Government of India launched the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme or NAPS in August of 2016, with a view to address all the major issues. Through the engagement of empowered Third Party Aggregators or TPAs, the Government has looked to reinforce the involvement of Small and Medium Enterprises in the apprenticeship ecosystem. Moreover, these TPAs are utilising their full authority to pool in resources, assist in the provision of basic training, and in creating the much-needed awareness amongst large stakeholders on the need of apprenticeship as well as the need for engaging apprentices in the core operations of the industry. The National Skill Development Council , the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and the Central Apprenticeship Council are all working in close conjunction to breathe life in the fragmented apprenticeship ecosystem in the country and unifying it through NAPS. Provision of financial assistance to the employers of various organisations who engage apprentices as well as incentivising the stipends of apprentices are notable economic assistance that the Government is delivering through the implementation of NAPS.
Challenges associated with the educational backlogs of Indian youths :
The favourable news for the nation is that in the demographic front, by the end of 2020, the average age of the native Indian population will be 29 years with at least 65% of the population belonging to the working age group between 15 years to 59 years. This change in age composition will continue in the next few decades, rising by at least 96.5 million from 2021 to 2031 and by 41.5 million from 2031 to 2041. The current labour force participation rate is around 53% for the age group 15 to 59 years. This will have tremendous implications on the required rate of job creation in the country and if this labour trajectory is allowed to continue, additional jobs will be required to be created to keep pace with this.
The problems associated in this context , though, are deep seated. Statistics show an extremely concerning picture. It affirms that almost 3% of the children drop out from studies after grade 5th and 8th in the country, owing to a variety of socio-economic reasons. In this context, apprenticeship can be deemed an extremely important mechanism for the seamless transition from the world of school based knowledge to the world of industrial operations and applications.
How is NAPS addressing the issues of the educational backlogs of the Indian youth :
The National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme and the National Apprenticeship Training Scheme , have both been heralded as the perfect pathways in realising the skill-gap of the Indian indigenous population and the workforce that results from it. Short term skilling programs have been linked with both the schemes in order to facilitate the skilling pathways for school dropouts at standard five and beyond.
Along with that, NAPS and NATS have both been introduced and are realising their implementation through the provision of Basic Training through Basic Training Providers or BTPs and the provision of On-the-Job or practical training at a workplace, by organisations belonging to both public and private sectors which are equipped with the requisite infrastructural facilities. Therefore, these Apprenticeship Promotion schemes are acting to a maximum of their potential to revise the apprenticeship ecosystem of the country and simultaneously trying to improve the state of technical and non-technical education by their attempts at skilling the unskilled or semi-skilled and thereby reducing the educational backlogs of the Indian youth.